W. Rowland Taylor, PhD

Professor of Optometry and Vision Science; Researcher

School of Optometry

413 Minor Hall
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720


(510) 643-8459



Vision Science Graduate Program

Research Interests

The goal of my research is to understand how neural circuits within the mammalian retina encode and transmit information about the visual environment. Ultimately, understanding circuit function in the healthy and diseased retina will aid in the development of treatments designed to restore sight. To this end, it is essential to understand how the neurons encode visual information, and how the biophysical characteristics and neural architecture constrain the performance of the system. The experimental work emphasizes quantitative measurements of neural responses to natural stimuli in the intact retina. We also
perform immunohistochemical studies to localize transmitter receptors and channels within specific neural circuits. Additionally, we construct computer models of neurons and circuits, based on realistic morphologies and neural connectivity, and run simulations of circuit function to further test our understanding, and to generate experimentally testable predictions.

Selected Publications

1. Robertson B, Taylor WR (1986) Effects of gamma-amino butyric acid and (-)-baclofen on calcium and potassium currents in cat dorsal root ganglion neurones. Br J Pharmacol 89 661-672.

2. Taylor WR (1988a) Two-suction-electrode voltage-clamp analysis of the sustained calcium current in cat sensory neurones. J Physiol 407 405-432.

3. Taylor WR (1988b) Permeation of barium and cadmium through slowly inactivating calcium channels in cat sensory neurones. J Physiol 407 433-452.

4. Mittman S, Taylor WR, Copenhagen DR (1990) Concomitant activation of two types of glutamate receptor mediates excitation of salamander retinal ganglion cells. J Physiol 428 175-197.

5. Makino CL, Taylor WR, Baylor DA (1991) Rapid charge movement and photosensitivity of visual pigments in salamander rods and cones. J Physiol 442 761-780.

6. Taylor WR, Chen EP, Copenhagen DR (1995) Characterization of spontaneous excitatory synaptic currents in Salamander retinal ganglion cells. J Physiol 486 207-221.

7. Taylor WR, Baylor DA (1995) Conductance and kinetics of single cGMP-activated channels in salamander rod outer segments. J Physiol 483 567-582.

8. Taylor WR, Wässle H (1995) Receptive field properties of starburst cholinergic amacrine cells in the rabbit retina. Eur J Neurosci 7 2308-2321.

9. Taylor WR, Mittman S, Copenhagen DR (1996) Passive electrical cable properties and synaptic excitation of tiger salamander retinal ganglion cells. Vis Neurosci 13 979-990.

10. Taylor WR (1996) Response properties of long-range axon-bearing amacrine cells in the dark-adapted rabbit retina. Vis Neurosci 13 599-604.

11. Morgans CW, El Far O, Berntson A, Wässle H, Taylor WR (1998) Calcium extrusion from mammalian photoreceptor terminals. J Neurosci 18 2467-2474.

12. Taylor WR, Morgans CW (1998) Localization and properties of voltage-gated calcium channels in cone photoreceptors of Tupaia belangeri. Vis Neurosci 15 541-552.

13. Rauen T, Taylor WR, Kuhlbrodt K, Wiessner M (1998) High-affinity glutamate transporters in the rat retina a major role of the glial glutamate transporter GLAST-1 in transmitter clearance. Cell Tissue Res 291 19-31.

14. Taylor WR (1999) TTX attenuates surround inhibition in rabbit retinal ganglion cells. Vis Neurosci 16 285-290.

15. Berntson A, Taylor WR (2000) Response characteristics and receptive field widths of on-bipolar cells in the mouse retina. J Physiol (Lond.) 524 879-889.

16. Taylor WR, He S, Levick WR, Vaney DI (2000) Dendritic computation of direction selectivity by retinal ganglion cells. Science 289 2347-2350.

17. Taylor WR, Vaney DI (2002) Diverse Synaptic Mechanisms Generate Direction Selectivity in the Rabbit Retina. J Neurosci 227712-7720.

18. Hemmi J, James A, Taylor WR (2002) Color opponent retinal ganglion cells in the Tammar Wallaby retina. J Vis 2 608-617.

19. Berntson A, Taylor WR (2003) The unitary event amplitude of mouse retinal on-cone bipolar cells. Visual Neurosci 20 621-626.

20. Berntson A, Taylor WR, Morgans CW (2003) Molecular identity, synaptic localization, and physiology of calcium channels in retinal bipolar cells. J Neurosci Res 71 146-151.

21. Berntson A, Smith RG, Taylor WR (2004) Transmission of Single Photon Signals Through a Binary Synapse in the Mammalian Retina. Vis Neurosci 21 1-10.

22. Tukker JJ, Taylor WR, Smith RG (2004) Direction selectivity in a model of the starburst amacrine cell. Vis Neurosci 21 611-625.

23. Berntson A, Smith RG, Taylor WR (2004) Postsynaptic calcium feedback between rods and rod bipolar cells in the mouse retina. Vis Neurosci 21 913-924.

24. Morgans CW, Bayley PR, Oesch NW, Ren G, Akileswaran L, Taylor WR (2005) Photoreceptor calcium channels Insight from night blindness. Vis Neurosci 22 561-568.

25. Oesch N, Euler T, Taylor WR (2005) Direction-selective dendritic action potentials in rabbit retina. Neuron 47 739-750.

26. van Wyk M, Taylor WR & Vaney DI (2006) Local-edge-detectors a substrate for fine spatial vision at low temporal frequencies in rabbit retina. J Neurosci 26 13250-13263.

27. Puthussery T, Gayet-Primo J, Pandey S., Duvoisin RM, & Taylor WR (2009). Differential loss and preservation of glutamate receptor function in bipolar cells in the rd10 mouse model of retinitis pigmentosa. Eur J Neurosci 29 1533-1542.

28. van Wyk M, Wässle H, & Taylor WR (2009) Receptive-field properties of ON- and OFF-ganglion cells in the mouse retina. Vis Neurosci 26 297-308.

29. Puthussery T, Gayet-Primo J, Taylor WR (2010) Localisation of the calcium-binding protein secretagogin in cone bipolar cells of the mammalian retina. J Comp Neurol 518 513-525.

30. Quraishi S, Reed BT, Duvoisin RM, & Taylor WR (2010) Selective activation of mGluR8 receptors modulates retinal ganglion cell light responses. Neuroscience, 166 935-941.

31. Sivyer B., Taylor WR & Vaney, D. I. (2010) Uniformity detector retinal ganglion cells fire complex spikes and receive only light-evoked inhibition. Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 107 5628-5633.

32. Lipin MY, Smith RG & Taylor WR (2010) Maximizing Contrast Resolution in the Outer Retina of Mammals. Biol Cybern 103 57-77.

33. Sivyer B, van Wyk M, Vaney DI and Taylor WR. (2010) Synaptic inputs and timing underlying the velocity tuning of direction-selective ganglion cells in the rabbit retina. J Physiol 588 3243-53.

34. Schachter MJ, Oesch N, Smith RG, and WR Taylor. (2010) Dendritic spikes amplify the synaptic signal to enhance detection of motion in a simulation of the direction-selective ganglion cell. PLoS Comp Biol 6(8) e1000899.

35. Oesch N, and WR Taylor. (2010) Tetrodotoxin-resistant Sodium Channels Contribute to Directional Responses in Starburst Amacrine Cells. PLoS ONE 5 1-12.

36. Venkataramani SV & Taylor WR (2010) Orientation Selectivity in Rabbit Retinal Ganglion Cells is Mediated by Presynaptic Inhibition. J Neurosci 30 15664-15676.

37. Sivyer B, Venkataramani S, Taylor WR, Vaney DI (2011) A Novel Type of Complex Ganglion Cell in Rabbit Retina. J Comp Neurol 519 3128-38.

38. Puthussery T, Gayet-Primo J, Taylor WR. (2011) Carbonic anhydrase-related protein VIII is expressed in rod bipolar cells and alters signaling at the rod bipolar to AII-amacrine cell synapse in the mammalian retina. Eur J Neurosci 34 1419-1431.

39. Puthussery T, Gayet, JG, Taylor, WR. & Haverkamp, S (2011) Immunohistochemical identification and synaptic inputs to the diffuse bipolar cell type DB1 in macaque retina, J Comp Neurol 519 3640-3656.

40. Buldyrev I., Puthussery T, Taylor WR. (2012) Synaptic pathways that shape the excitatory drive in an OFF retinal ganglion cell, J Neurophysiol 107 1795-1807.

41. Buldyrev I. & Taylor WR. (2013) Inhibitory Mechanisms that Generate Centre and Surround Properties in ON and OFF Brisk-sustained Ganglion Cells in the Rabbit Retina, J Physiol 591 303-25.

42. Puthussery T, Venkataramani S, Gayet-Primo J, Smith RG, Taylor WR. (2013) NaV1.1 Channels in Axon Initial Segments of Bipolar Cells Augment Input to Magnocellular Visual Pathways in the Primate Retina. J Neurosci 33 16045-16059.

43. Venkataramani S, Van Wyk M, Buldyrev I, Sivyer B, Vaney DI, Taylor WR (2014) Distinct roles for inhibition in spatial and temporal tuning of local edge detectors in the rabbit retina. PLoS One 9e88560.

44. Puthussery T, Percival K, Venkataramani S, Gayet-Primo J, Grunert U, and Taylor WR (2014) Kainate Receptors Mediate Synaptic Input to Transient and Sustained OFF Visual Pathways in Primate Retina. J Neurosci 34 7611-7621.

45. Lipin, M, Taylor, WR, & Smith, RG (2015) Inhibitory Input to the Direction Selective Ganglion Cells Is Saturated at Low Contrast. J. Neurophys. June 10, DOI: 10.1152/jn.00413.2015.

46. Balakrishnan V, Puthussery T, Kim, M, Taylor, WR, and von Gersdorff, H (2015) Synaptic vesicle exocytosis at the dendritic lobules of an inhibitory interneuron in the mammalian retina, Neuron 87 565-575.

47. Murphy-Baum B & Taylor, WR (2015) Synaptic and morphological basis of orientation selectivity in a polyaxonal amacrine cell of the rabbit retina. J Neurosci. 35 13336-13350.

48. Venkataramani S & Taylor, WR (2016) Synaptic Mechanisms Generating Orientation Selectivity in the ON Pathway of the Rabbit Retina, J Neurosci. in press.